Donald Trump and Joe Biden will meet on the debate stage at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
The 90-minute prime-time event is an opportunity for millions of Americans to compare the politicians and personalities of the two presidential candidates which are side by side.
Trump has been following the former Democratic vice president in national polls for months, but the race shows signs of tightening in some decisive states.
The moderator of the debate, Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Channel, selected the topics. He will challenge the pair on their records, the COVID-19[feminine[feminine pandemic, the economy, race and violence in American cities, the future of the Supreme Court and the integrity of the elections.
But other headline-grabbing topics – like the Trump tax revelations – could emerge.
The presidential debates have long been seen as pivotal moments in the race for the White House. With the pandemic ravaging most traditional countryside, this could be particularly significant.
Biden’s preparation has focused on conveying his message that Trump has let the American people down on the economy and the pandemic. Advisers say he must avoid being insulted by Trump.
He must also end Trump’s insults that “Sleepy Joe” does not have the energy and mental focus to assume the presidency. At 77, he would be the oldest person ever to serve as president, a record currently held by Trump.
In debates in the Democratic primaries, Biden has appeared restless and hesitant at times, especially when he was attacked by his mate Kamala Harris.
Trump has reportedly given up on official preparations for the debate. His campaign believes he submits to enough hostile questioning every day to be sufficient.
He demonstrated during his debates with Hillary Clinton in 2016 that, like most things, he views them as reality TV. His bellicose, combative, and authoritarian style was unlike anything American politics had ever seen.
Perhaps the busiest people of the night will be the army of listening fact-checkers. Biden has repeatedly called Trump a liar.
There is urgency for both campaigns in this first debate with millions of Americans voting early. Trump’s repeated questioning of the legitimacy of the election, and postal voting in particular, is almost certain to feature.
The question is whether the debate will radically change the course of the race. In the last election years, the winner on stage is not always the winner on election night.
And, five weeks from the end, in an America so angry and rarely divided, how many of them haven’t already made up their minds?
- Watch and follow the first U.S. Presidential Debate 2020 live on Sky News and Sky News online and on mobile starting at 2 a.m. Wednesday.